I’m reading Henri J M Nouwen’s, The Inner Voice of Love, his personal journal during a time of deep anguish to freedom. It’s a book about spiritual imperatives. I wondered whether these could be mirrored in business imperatives. So this is a journey I am going to pursue.
Small business is under pressure and it is challenging to maintain a smile, hope, creativity and new ideas. But small business is critical to our country’s blooming. Some estimates indicate that the total economic output of SMEs makes up about half of South Africa’s GDP and that SMEs provide employment to about 60% of South Africa’s labour force.
In an SME (small to medium enterprise), there is usually a handful of people who come up with the idea, produce the item, take it to market, handle complaints, do the books, manage the admin, remember to tweet, capture news on Facebook, update the website, and make coffee. When competition, rejection, regulation are just the breeze of any day, that’s a lot to manage without falling over.
As an entrepreneur, how do you stand in the storm? Here are some of the things that help me:
- I take some time out in nature every day, I either walk on Kalk Bay mountain, or swim in Dalebrook, although swimming is over for a few months till temperatures are back at the upper teens.
- I check in with my industry. Thanks to technology this is really easy – interest groups on LinkedIn, blogs, websites, conversations.
- Connecting is easy for me; I’d rather be shot at dawn than cold call. So I connect, with clients, past clients, friends.
- Is there anything I am working on that can be pushed along a little further? Research, pricing, proposals, administration?
- I’m never at my desk in my pyjamas – I get ready as if I have somewhere to go.
- Social media – I attended an excellent social media course lead by Charlotte Kemp of Niche Training. As an entrepreneur, social media is part of your job description, it’s part of your marketing plan, not something that you have and never update. If it’s not your strength, do a trade exchange with someone who has those skills, and get them to build your reputation and get your brand out there on social media. The challenge with social media is to be current and for your postings to be meaningful or to add value.
- No client’s budget is ever too small. You never know what might open up or who you might meet. I recently did a trade exchange with an artist – Dathini Mzayiya. We traded a painting for some publicity for his recent exhibition at Greatmore Studios.
So some admin …
I take a deep breath, look at the beautiful view from my office, drink a good cup of Truth Coffee. And stand.
Kim Barty is Managing Director of Trojan Horse, a boutique Kalk Bay communications agency in South Africa. She assists clients to get behind enemy lines and into new markets, using personal and innovative exchanges with the media and targeted audiences.